David L. Bay, LC
“Intelligent energy is all about managing energy more efficiently than ever before. Demand for energy keeps growing worldwide, and the use of it must become more sustainable. At the same time there is a growing need for an expansion and modernization of the existing energy infrastructure. This will require a systematic optimization of the energy system, and today’s power grids will gradually transform into interactive, transparent and environment-friendly smart grids, often interconnecting regions, countries or even continents.”
So began an early-CY 2012 announcement titled “Intelligent Energy” (Click Link_1) by Denmark’s State of Green, (Click Link_2) public-private partnership. Their broad-thinking, environmentally focused “intelligent energy” concepts proposed bold and large-scale ideas enabled by the use of connected and “smart” technologies to realize significant favorable impacts on society’s limited energy resources. Despite being focused in those early days on the “power grid,” State of Green continued to think broad and bold, expanding and evolving scope and perspectives of their “intelligent energy” concept to include at least 10 “green sectors,” all of which are closely aligned to/with the conventional “power grid.” Additionally, State of Green has not dropped the broad geographical coverage aspects of their original pitch, including the potentials of “interconnected regions, countries or even continents.” I applaud the intelligent energy thinking, intentions, communications and progress demonstrated by Denmark’s State of Green.
After reading State of Green’s “Intelligent Energy” publication, and with my being familiar with the smart lighting concepts which had been discussed and implemented since the early 2000s, I recall being struck by the significant differences in scale of approach. As Denmark’s State of Green launched with a wide-area coverage, power grid-focused intelligent energy approach in CY 2012, many of the fashionable smart lighting, city and building concepts were focusing on relatively narrow, relatively localized energy-saving possibilities from smart lighting augmented by the difficult to (financially) quantify comfort, convenience and automation/facilitation benefits enabled by smart technology. Step-by-step, the scope and perspective of these smart lighting concepts were expanding to include increasingly larger portions of facilities, geography, applications and services. Denmark’s State of Green started big and expanded from there; whereas, smart lighting started small and incrementally expanded.
After wrestling with the two different approaches described above, I came to an important conclusion: The infrastructure necessary to enable robust, reliable and flexible smart products, applications and services, which must deliver a reduction in energy consumption, an increase in the energy efficiency of a system or application; as well as improve comfort, convenience, automation and facilitation is both significant and costly. The same requires considerable sensing, data accumulation, analysis and processing, communicative and interconnected resources, the extent of which can’t be justified by small, localized and largely independent installations of smart products, applications and services. My conclusion: Large, regional, national, international as well as intercontinental approaches will be necessary for society to realize and maximize the most significant energy savings, energy efficiency and human factor-based benefits.
For those who might consider my conclusions to be unrealistic, impractical and not technically or economically viable, I’d like to recall the state of personal computers, local area networks, the internet, email, online bulletin boards, software, data storage and data analysis of 1990 — just 26 years ago. Had I written in 1990 a prediction that within 25 years my briefcase would hold a light-weight, affordable, portable computer with a color display and six-hour battery life a pack-of-gum-sized 10 GB data storage devices;, a personally owned tablet computer with LTE and WiFi connection capabilities; a small 12K mAH battery pack and that I constantly wore with an LTE-, WiFi-, Bluetooth- and internet-enabled phone on my hip — few people, including myself, would have thought it possible. Need I say more? Most things IoT are possible.
I look forward to the next 30 years of technical challenges and chaos – - – it will be as much fun as the past 30!
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About the Author
David L. Bay, LC has worked for OSRAM SYLVANIA for more than 35 years, holding various R&D positions including electronics development engineer, light source development engineer, manager of electronic lighting product development, engineering director of Electronic Control Systems, Global Systems Coordinator, Research Manager for Low Pressure Discharge Products and his current position of Corporate Engineer in the Central Technology Research and Innovation organization. David holds twelve US patents, two internal trade secret awards and has been honored with two of the Company’s highest honors – The GTE/Leslie H. Warner Award and the OSRAM Star award. David holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Pennsylvania State University. He is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES), and the Optical Society of America (OSA). David is also a National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) EIT and is Lighting Certified (LC) by The National Council on Qualifications for the Lighting Professions (NCQLP).